South Flow Activity Rests at the Airport – At Least for Now

Summer in the Twin Cities is precious and this summer is no exception. Residents who were impacted early in the season by heavy-use of the south flow runway configuration at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) may experience some reprieve while we all enjoy the fresh blast of cool air from the north.

“We typically hear more aircraft noise concerns from residents during summertime, but this summer has been a bit unique,” explained Dana Nelson, Manager of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) Noise Program Office. "There has been no change in flight procedures. Rather, MSP was stuck in the south flow configuration for a long time during May and June as a result of the weather pattern that brought us so much southerly wind and above-average temperatures.”

So what happened? In May and June, the winds were out of a direction favoring south flow close to 60% of the time. This is compared to only 38% during the same time period last year. This led to many flights to and from MSP following flight paths in a south flow day after day.

As pointed out by Mark Seeley in his July 20, 2018 Weather Talk blog, “across most of the state during June NE, E, or SE winds prevailed on 11 to 16 days, while so far this month [July] most climate stations have reported winds with an easterly component on 8 to 10 days.” Along with this wind pattern, the National Weather Service Office in Chanhassen is reporting the growing season, which begins May 1, is currently the 3rd warmest so far trailing only 1934 and 1988.

The winds of change - Starting on July 20 the wind switched direction, bringing comfortable temperatures to our area and bringing some variation to the flight direction. The winds out of the north and west are forecast to continue over the weekend before changing back to the south by early next week.

Check out the MAC FlightTracker to view aircraft activity and weather details: MAC FlightTracker

For a closer look at how runway use decisions are made, check out Part 4 of the MAC Aircraft Noise Basics video series: Aircraft Noise Basics